Pokemon Go Craze Reaches Osan Airbase

If you are on Osan AB and see random people congregating and looking into their smartphones at certain locations this may be why:

Pokemon Go recently launched in South Korea, and the post office at Osan Air Base is one of the many Pokestops available to servicemembers there.

Serra said it’s not bad exercise either, but don’t expect the local sergeant major to cancel physical training anytime soon.

A quick stroll around Osan Air Base reveals Pokestops at the post office, Turumi Lodge and the officer’s club. Players who reach level 5 can challenge a level-7 gym at the Tuskegee Airman statue.

Military officials caution that common sense and military regulations still apply.

Bob McElroy, a spokesman for Camp Humphreys, said servicemembers are free to play across base but need to refrain from using the game where operational security or sensitivity is a concern.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Report Says Secretary Mattis to Keep General Brooks as USFK Commander

In this Yonhap article about Secretary Mattis’ recent visit to South Korea, there is blurb that states that General Vincent Brooks is likely to stay on as USFK commander:

Another military source said that during the visit, Mattis also expressed his confidence in the U.S. Forces Korea commander, Gen. Vincent Brooks, who was named under the Obama administration and is likely to continue in his current position after the recent administration change in the U.S.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I hope General Brooks stays on since I believe he has done a great job as the USFK commander.  However, my concern is that President Trump is known for holding grudges and General Brooks did testify to Congress with information contrary to what President Trump claimed during his campaign.

Apache Helicopters Coming to Korea to Replace Retired Kiowas

The deployment of the Apache helicopters is supposed to be complete by October this year:

U.S. Forces Korea will deploy 24 Apache helicopters to South Korea as the allied forces face a growing threat from the North.

But the battalion will be temporarily split between two bases because a new parking apron hasn’t been completed, the military said Monday.

The scheduled rotational deployment of the AH-64D attack helicopters next month will replace 30 OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters, which are being retired.

Sixteen of the Apaches will be temporarily stationed at Suwon Air Base until a new parking apron is completed at Camp Humphreys, which will eventually house the bulk of U.S. forces as part of a long-delayed relocation from Seoul and bases to the north. The other eight will be at Camp Humphreys, according to the USFK public affairs office.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Report Claims US Special Ops Unit to Help Kill Kim Jong-un In A Crisis

Take it for what is worth, but unidentified sources are saying that US Special Operations Forces would participate in an operation to kill Kim Jong-un in case of conflict:

The South Korean Army is engaged in a special infiltration exercise in the East Sea on Aug. 6, 2016. (Yonhap)

– U.S. special operation forces are expected to participate in a South Korean-led operation to kill North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in the event of war, according to military sources Sunday.

“The South Korean military will form a special brigade based on that of the U.S. sometime later this year,” said a high-ranking government official on the condition of anonymity, adding that U.S. special agents are expected to be under Korean command during the operation.

“Although the brigade is modeled after that in the U.S., it will be tailored to the special environments of the peninsula,” he said.

The 1,000-2,000-strong unit is tasked with eliminating Pyongyang’s wartime command, including Kim Jong-un, and paralyzing its functions.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: Camp Casey Soldiers Form 2ID Emblem

U.S. military base emblem made of soldiers

South Korean and U.S. soldiers form an emblem of U.S. military base Camp Casey in Dongducheon, 40 kilometers north of Seoul, on Dec. 21, 2016, as they prepare for the camp’s centennial anniversary next year. The camp turns 100 years old in October 2017. (Photo provided by the Korea-U.S. Combined Division) (Yonhap)

2nd Infantry Division Chemical Soldiers Train for North Korean WMD Response

What I found of most interest in this article is that US soldiers are training to look for North Korean “mad scientists”.  Wouldn’t this be something the ROK Army would be better equipped to do then having random patrols of US soldiers in North Korea trying to find these scientists?:

A soldier with the Fort Riley, Kan.-based 3rd Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division crouches on a staircase during a drill at Rodriguez Live Fire Range, South Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. The exercise was held with the 501st CBRNE Company as part of training to increase the readiness of troops to confront threat of chemical and biological weapons and nuclear weapons.

The U.S. soldiers donned gas masks as they cleared building after building after receiving intelligence that North Korean scientists were cooking up chemical weapons in the vicinity.

They found the makeshift lab with beakers and tubes filled with a yellow substance in a room off the icy rooftop of a two-story brick building. It was time to call the 501st CBRNE Company (Technical Escort), a specialized unit trained to deal with weapons of mass destruction.

The scenario was part of a training exercise, but the dangers facing the soldiers stationed near the front lines of the divided peninsula are all too real.

North Korea has demonstrated alarming progress in its nuclear weapons program this year, with two underground atomic explosions and two dozen ballistic missile tests.

But the Stalinist state is believed to have vast stockpiles of other nasty stuff, too.

“North Korea has the full spectrum of all types of chemical and biological weapons … and they’ve weaponized all of it,” Lt. Col. Roberto Salas, commander of the 23rd Chemical Battalion, told Stars and Stripes.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Opposition Parties Call for Delay In THAAD Deployment To Korea

The USFK commander is saying there will not be a delay in the deployment of THAAD to Korea, but the ROK opposition parties are using the current Presidential political crisis as an opportunity to stop the deployment:

In this photo taken on Dec. 13, 2016, and provided by the Ministry of National Defense, USFK Commander Gen. Vincent K. Brooks steps into the ministry’s headquarters in Seoul to meet with Defense Minister Han Min-koo over readiness against North Korean threats. (Yonhap)

The commander of the U.S. Forces Korea said Tuesday there will be no delay in the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile shield in South Korea next year.

Opposition parties have stepped up their objection to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system since the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye last Friday, demanding the decision to introduce THAAD be delayed to the next administration.

“I don’t expect any delays,” Gen. Vincent K. Brooks told Yonhap News Agency when asked if he expected the political crisis to affect the deployment.

He made the remark after a meeting with Defense Minister Han Min-koo at the ministry’s headquarters in Seoul.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Eighth Army Commander Warns of North Korean Provocation In Two Months

I don’t think we are going to see the North Koreans do anything serious until the whole President Park fiasco plays out.  They are getting a propaganda coup out of this scandal and have a real chance of having a South Korean left wing politician favorable to North Korea elected as the next President.  A serious provocation cycle could put all of this at risk:

In this photo, taken on Nov. 8, 2016, Thomas S. Vandal, commanding general of the Eighth Army, delivers a speech on security issues at a Seoul university. (Yonhap)

In this photo, taken on Nov. 8, 2016, Thomas S. Vandal, commanding general of the Eighth Army, delivers a speech on security issues at a Seoul university. (Yonhap)

A top U.S. general here warned that North Korea could stage a provocation within two months to test the incoming U.S. administration or take advantage of political instability in Seoul.

Thomas S. Vandal, commander of the Eighth Army, made the remark in a luncheon meeting with senior reporters, citing the communist country’s track record of staging provocations in times of transition of power in Seoul and Washington.

Though there are no specific signs yet, he said, North Korea could raise military tension in an attempt to test President-elect Donald Trump, as Pyongyang has no idea of his policy toward the North.

He also said the North may also be tempted to provoke the South at a time Seoul is transfixed by a sprawling corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her close confidante.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I think the February/March timeframe when the next Key Resolve exercise happens the North Koreans will probably do there normal protests and rhetoric.  However, I don’t expect them to do a serious provocation such as sinking a South Korean ship or launching an artillery strike on a border island like we have seen in the past.

F-16 Pilot Ejects After Making Emergency Landing at Osan Airbase

Fortunately it appears no one was seriously hurt from this emergency landing at Osan AB:

usfk logo

A U.S. pilot escaped from a fighter jet after making an emergency landing during an aerial combat exercise, the United States Forces Korea (USFK) said Saturday.

The USFK said a pilot of F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron successfully escaped from his jet after landing at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul. The incident occurred at approximately 5 p.m.

The USFK said emergency teams have reached the pilot with authorities trying to determine the cause of the incident.  [Yonhap]

Here is the press release from Osan Airbase that shows that the pilot actually ejected from the aircraft while on the ground:

After landing from a training mission, a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot ejected from an F-16 Fighting Falcon

assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron at approximately 5 p.m.

The pilot was taken to the 51st Medical Group clinic and was listed in good condition.

“We are relieved that our Mustang pilot ejected safely, and is now in the good hands of our medical team,”

said Col. Andrew Hansen, 51st Fighter Wing commander. “We are currently focused on thoroughly

investigating the cause of this incident in order to minimize the chances of it happening again in the future.”

A board of officers will investigate the accident as part of a safety investigation board.  [Osan AB]

Picture of the Day: Korean Defense Chief Visits 2ID Soldiers

Defense chief visits S. Korea-U.S. combined division

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo (6th from L, 2nd row) and U.S. Forces Korea’s top commander Vincent Brooks (5th from L, 2nd row) pose for a photo with a group of soldiers as they visit a South Korean-U.S. combined division in Dongducheon, north of Seoul, on Nov. 29, 2016, to check up South Korean and U.S. troops’ joint readiness to better cope with threats posed by North Korea, in this photo released by the defense ministry. The division consists of a brigade from the South Korean Army and the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division, with each entity to carry out normal duties in its assigned area during peacetime. (Yonhap)